The Thrive Questionnaire with Tony Hawk

The skateboarding pro opens up about failure after turning 50 and embracing the next chapter of his life.

When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.

Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Tony Hawk: I check my phone for any urgent texts or emails that came in throughout the night (usually from Europe), then make coffee (Blue Bottle, always).

TG: What gives you energy?
TH: Exploring new ideas or business opportunities, watching my kids succeed at something, traveling to new places, or landing a new trick.

TG: What’s your secret life hack?
TH: Learn to love black coffee. It is truly liberating, and you can avoid the wait.

TG: Name a book that changed your life.
TH: I Had Trouble Getting To Solla Sollew by Dr. Seuss. I used to read it to my kids when they were young; it’s an important message about not running away from your problems because if you do, they only multiply. It changed my life because it made this concept easier to explain to my children at a formative age.

TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
TH: Only when I’m traveling. I try not to use it so frequently during the day so that I can be present with my family. If I need to take care of something that requires time/thought, I’ll try to do it away from everyone so that I’m not giving them my false attention.

TG: How do you deal with email?
TH: I feel like I’m on top of it if my inbox is less than 20. I treat emails like targets in a video game that I need to zap quickly before they pile up on me.

TG: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
TH: That’s usually my chance to scroll Instagram and catch up on what everyone else has been talking about that day.

TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
TH: Last night! It came after 3 days of nonstop commitments and celebrations: surfing Kelly Slater’s wave near Fresno, then my 50th birthday party the next day in LA, doing a late night radio show the next night in San Diego, then shooting skate photos the next day and my wife’s birthday party that night… all while caring for 4 children. My wife and I tried to watch John Oliver after we got home last night and passed out – fully clothed – within minutes.

TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
TH: There was a trick I wanted to get for my #50tricksat50 video that has eluded me for a couple years now. I finally gave up on it as the deadline was looming. I overcame it by swallowing my pride a bit and hoping that the rest of my successful tricks would suffice. It was cathartic knowing that my age is probably the biggest factor in not being able to do it anymore, and I have come to embrace the next chapter of my life… without 360 flip mutes.

TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
TH: “I’m never as good as when you’re there” (from Almost Famous, which is exactly how I feel about my wife Catherine).

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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